Narrative: Bloody Sunday (19th Dec 1943).

The battle started in the early hours of the morning when advanced elements of SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler pushing east to free the trapped 5th and 13th panzer divisions encountered the 47th Guards Breakthrough Tank Regiment of 2nd Tatsinskaya Guards Tank Corps on gently rolling wooded hills 90 miles to the east of the upper Dnieper. As the light snow flurries of the night lifted the brigade was caught in column moving in a defiled road. The heavy Tigers together with medium Panthers caught them completely by surprise. The heavier tanks with the massive 88 mm cannon standing off out of effective range of the lighter armed Soviet T34s and light Lend lease tanks picking them off one by one. An hour later the German units which started the encounter outnumbered 10:1 by the more numerous adversaries had eliminated them as an effective fighting force.  Driving forward the division pressed home the advantage. Soviets units short of fuel and ammunition were easy prey to the well-equipped and supplied German force and by the end of the day two entire tank corps of Soviet Guards Tank formations lay crippled on the battlefield and reduced to a mere third of their original strength.  This was by far the largest single day tank battle of the war in the East.

Despite this slaughter the arrival of a Political Re-education unit of the NKVD encouraged a fanatical Soviet defence and the Soviets held onto the battlefield.

By the night of the third day it became clear that the panzers could make no more headway against the veteran rump and the relief force pulled back leaving the battlefield festooned in a  tangled mass of burning steel but also leaving it in Soviet ownership and furthermore leaving their trapped comrades to face a short, and brutal, life in the Gulags.

The German relief effort had failed.

Turn Report

AGN: The German forces lining the Dvina east of Riga take advantage of the U2 defenders and launch a series of attacks across the river. Results are disappointing with only one of the 3 attacks eliminating the defenders. The other attacks retreat the enemy but only one advance is made for fear of overextending into Soviet lines. At the northern tip of the Dougavpils bulge Viking is reunited by a pincer attack which eliminates the 11-8-8 Tk Corps defender and supporting arms although the cost is high with a Pz Cadre and SS inf brigade sacrifice.

AGC: The attack lead by LSSAH is called off after stalling against fanatical Soviet resistance (see above) and while the attack inflicts a great loss on the defenders it fails to secure the release of the two trapped 16-10 panzer units.

The rescue of the southern pocket however is more successful with an infantry division and collection of motorized units and panzer cadres breaking out to wards the Bryansk/Gomel road.

The attack forces the retreat of a 12-9-8 Tk corps and 15-3-8 Rkt corps which are reduced to cadre strength. The mobile units reach the road running west with the slower infantry division stalling any pursuit.

AGS: No attacks south of the weather line as the Army Group pulls back. In the north a dangerous gap opens between AGC and AGS where a single panzer division holds 65 miles of front.

In the south the retreating, manly Rumanian, front line reaches the eastern outskirts of Rostov.

Air Combat: Little to report as the Luftwaffe concentrates of DAS.  The VVS challenges a number of missions inflicting 3 losses for 2 of their own

Combat Report

Attacks: Auto = 1 (against a lone NKVD unit holding a supply line open), Diced = 6
Losses: German = 12, 3xAir.
Soviet = 71 plus 1xFort, 2x air. (Including 1x Tk xxx eliminated, 3x Guard Tk xxx reduced to cadre, and one Gds Rkt reduced to cadre).